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A bartender, florist, designer and chef on how to make the most of al fresco dining this year

We’re midway through summer 2022, and outdoor entertaining season is at its peak. To help you get the most out of your al fresco dining and hosting, we’ve assembled four entertaining pros, and asked them their top tips on throwing a great outdoor get-together this season – plus some insider info on what each of them simply can’t live without when it comes to summertime hosting.

The Insiders

For a craveable cocktail: Patrick Fulgencio

Head bartender at Dear Friend in Dartmouth, N.S.

PUR-INSIDERSREPORT-PATRICKFULGENCIO-0806Patrick Fulgencio/The Globe and Mail

For Fulgencio, summer entertaining is all about mixing up a signature cocktail. This summer, he’s going all in on Amaro, the Italian bitter that forms the basis of his Dessert Spoon Spritz (link to recipe below). His warm-weather hosting style is “usually a potluck situation with my friends,” Fulgencio says, “but I contribute a special drink and a charcuterie board made from local cheese, meat and fruit.”

Top tip: When mixing cocktails, Fulgencio suggests kicking things up a notch: “Express the fruit oils from your citrus peels and spank your herbs to activate the flavours,” he says.

Hosting must-haves: Sugar, citrus and bitters for the cocktails; a chic, cheerful tablecloth to set the vibe.

Get more summer hosting tips from Patrick Fulgencio, including the recipe for his Dessert Spoon Spritz.

For the tastiest table settings: Amy Burstyn Fritz

PR pro and co-founder of dinnerware company Misette, Toronto

Amy Burstyn Fritz, co-founder of dinnerware company Misette.Christie Vuong/The Globe and Mail

If you ask this Toronto-based dinnerware buff her key to hosting the perfect summer party, her answer will naturally gravitate towards the importance of table settings: Misette, after all, is well-known for its mood-setting, eye-catching dishes, linens, and other table settings. But setting a beautiful summer table goes beyond flatware and china: Burstyn Fritz also suggests getting creative with the details, like using unexpected objects, such as eggs or gourds, as place settings. And, for heaven’s sakes, burn your candles! “I know people who buy specialty candles and never burn them,” she says. “I’m a burner because candlelight makes everything better. Plus, YOLO! You can always get more.”

Top tip: Curate who’s sitting next to whom — and then move them between courses. “My mom was famous for doing that,” Burstyn Fritz says. “It keeps things unpredictable.”

Hosting must-haves: Pre-treated linens that minimize stains and wrinkles that can be easily be thrown in the washing machine after your party has wrapped (or the next morning).

Get more summer hosting tips from Amy Burstyn Fritz, including how to set a memorable table in five easy steps.

For a memorable menu: Olivier Le Calvez

Executive chef at Casa Madera, Toronto

Green Salad with Lime Vinaigrette and Grilled Fish Pacifico Style with Side Vegetables PUR-INSIDERSREPORT-OLIVIERLECALVEZ-0806Christie Vuong/The Globe and Mail

There’s a bit of pressure involved with dinner-party for hosting for Le Calvez, given his culinary pedigree. But in the summer, he keeps his al fresco dinner parties as simple as possible: “When I’m at home on the deck in my apron, I’m cooking simple things and just putting out platters,” he says. “[My guests and I] spend the day enjoying each others’ company and sharing stories while the kids run around the cul de sac. That’s summer for me.” Le Calvez opts for family-style dining and simple but delicious dishes that leverage the season’s freshest ingredients, like the leafy Bibb lettuce and fresh chives that are featured in his Green Salad with Lime Vinaigrette, the recipe for which you’ll find linked below.

Top tip: If you’re serving guac, opt out of garlic. Instead, balance your dip with “the right amount of lime juice and Serrano chili, sometimes with a bit of cilantro root, which has more flavour than the leaf,” Le Calvez suggests.

Hosting must-haves: In-season produce, where Le Calvez finds inspiration for his meal menus. “I wake up in the mornings and go to the market with my kids and take inspiration from what I see,” he says.

For more summer hosting tips from Olivier Le Calvez, including his recipes for Green Salad with Lime Vinaigrette and Grilled Fish Pacifico Style.

For fantastic florals: Tina Barkley

Co-founder of Fleurs des Villes, Vancouver

Tina Barkley, co-founder of Vancouver’s Fleurs de Villes.TRACEY AYTON/The Globe and Mail

In the summer, so many blossoms and blooms are at their peak, making it the right time of year for a splashy, elegant floral centrepiece. Tina Barkley’s backyard dinner parties are, during the summer, floral affairs, with the florist and designer leveraging the season’s fabulous flora to craft place settings, multiple table arrangements, and more. For Barkley, flowers are more than just the main event; they’re a mood-setter. “My approach is to tell a flower story right down the table, so everyone gets to enjoy the flowers, not just the person in the middle,” she says.

Top tip: Serve drinks with floral ice cubes featuring petals from edible flowers such as viola, geranium, lavender, rose, pansy, or nasturtium.

Hosting must-haves: A white tablecloth and white place settings to make her floral arrangements really pop, and 20 different vases running the length of her table. “This way, you create impact but people can see one another,” Barkley says.

Get more summer hosting tips from Tina Barkley, including four ways to make sure your summer floral arrangements stay fresher, longer.